He was tough on people but kind to animals, and that’s why we loved him. Dr. Bernard “Bernie” Rollin, a longtime Colorado State University Professor and the world’s leading animal ethicist of our time, passed away Friday, November 19 at the age of 78. Bernie was known as the “father of veterinary medical ethics.”
Bernie was born in New York in 1943. He became a professor at Colorado State University in 1969, where he would spend the next 51 years, retiring as University Distinguished Professor. After establishing himself as a pure philosopher in the 1970s, he shifted focus and dedicated the rest of his career to the welfare of animals in medicine, research, agriculture and society.
Bernie is credited with bringing extraordinary change for the animal welfare industry, earning countless friends, and even some enemies, along the way. He taught the first ever course on veterinary medical ethics, and profoundly changed the way veterinarians are taught and how they practice. Bernie co-wrote the 1982 federal laws that enforce humane treatment of animals in research, and as a result, was described as the person “who alleviated more animal pain than anyone in history.”
Bernie had a special relationship with American Humane and served on many advisory committees for our programs. He was a scorching critic of those who hurt our best friends and a staunch defender of defenseless creatures in need. His brilliant work helped make a significant, meaningful difference for millions of animals over the years.
We are so touched and grateful that Bernie selected American Humane as the charitable entity to honor his memory. We will strive tirelessly to ensure that our mission continues to benefit the world’s animal populations through the light shone by Bernie’s legacy.
Bernie Rollin will forever be a legend in the world of humane advocacy, and a leader who exemplified compassion, kindness and moral courage. He will be greatly missed by us, and the world’s animals.